The Down Syndrome Association of Central Texas is hosting their Share the Passion Calendar Gala on Saturday, September 14 from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. at Antebellum Oaks in Austin, which is located at 14913 Murfin Road. The annual fundraising event and celebration launches dsACT’s 2014 calendar, which features 12 children with Down syndrome who are part of the dsACT community.
Each of the children is paired with a celebrity or local dignitary who shares their passion, whether it be it singing, dancing or other activities as part of the calendar theme. The Gala starts with the calendar models arriving by limo and getting star treatment, including a walk down the red carpet with cheering admirers and photographers.
This year’s list of notables paired with calendar models includes Blue October, The Derailers, Kirk Dressendorfer, John Frick, Sheriff Greg Hamilton, The Imagination Movers, Russell Korman, Michael Raiford, Bandi Sansom, Jerry Sisemore, Kathy Valentine of The Go-Go's and Senator Judith Zaffirini. The gala will also feature guest of honor Tim Harris as co-emcee for the event, along with YNN’s Mary Wasson.
Harris, 27, was born with Down syndrome and is the owner of Tim’s Place in Albuquerque. He fulfilled his longtime dream of owning and operating a restaurant in 2010, following his graduation from Eastern New Mexico University in 2008 with certificates in Food Service, Office Skills, and Restaurant Hosting. In addition to owning Tim’s Place, he shares his inspirational story as a public speaker and has been featured in People Magazine and on CNN Headline News.
“The Share the Passion Calendar Gala is a celebration of individuals with Down syndrome, and the calendar photos showcasing how joyful and fulfilled they are engaging in what they’re most passionate about,” said Christy McDonald, co-chair of the event. “We’re particularly happy this year to have Tim Harris as part of the Gala; his story shows how much individuals with Down syndrome can accomplish and achieve.”
Individual tickets to the Gala are $15 each, with children 12 and under admitted free of charge. Funds raised by the Gala support dsACT’s ongoing education and support services. Tickets can be purchased by calling the DSACT office at 512-323-0808 or are available at the door.
Photographer Bill Ledbetter captured all of the images of celebrities and individuals with Down syndrome sharing their passions together for the calendar. The goal of the calendar is to raise awareness of how individuals with Down syndrome are ‘more alike than different’ than anyone else. In the calendar, one can see Matthew dancing with Disney’s Imagination Movers, Adele singing with Kathy Valentine and Alex sailing on Lake Travis with NFL player, Jerry Sisemore. Proceeds from the gala and calendar sales help DSACT to continue providing programs and services to individuals and families in Central Texas.